Risky Business

January 27, 2012

Dear Members and Friends,


Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced yesterday the FY2013 Defense base budget of $525 billion, as well as a plan forward to implement the congressionally mandated $487 billion cuts to the Department of Defense over the next 10 years; $259 billion will be cut in the first five years.  The base budgets for the Department of Defense for 2010, 2011, and 2012 of $533 billion, $549 billion, and $553 billion were higher than the 2013 budget of $525 billion.  The last time a U.S. defense budget declined from the previous year was in 1998.


Earlier this month the Secretary of Defense, along with the President of the United States, developed and released a new defensive strategy for the 21st century to align with these budget reductions (Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense).  This strategy focuses on five elements:  A smaller military, a rebalance of our global force structure to focus on the Middle East and Far East, building partnerships and alliances to share the burden globally from rebalancing, a strong U.S. counterinsurgent force structure to defeat aggression quickly anywhere in the world, and protecting key investments in technology and new capability for the future.


In this sparse budget environment in which our nation’s resources to best defend itself are significantly changing from the past, we would hope and expect as an American public that has relied over the past 68 years on peace through American military strength, that this sudden change of direction is driven by well thought-out, long-term strategies rather than by the immediate budget environment.


This new Department of Defense strategy is deeply and fundamentally reliant on missile defense; as our force structure is withdrawn and downsized, preventing conflict and defending our assets around the globe, especially in the Middle East and Far East, is crucial and our military forces and allies will become more dependent on U.S. missile defense systems.  New and continued partnerships with our Allies around the globe in their development of their own missile defense capabilities will continue to grow and be encouraged by the United States.  Missile defense is irreversible and remains one of our nation’s key technical investments; it has put us ahead of the world in this capability and will continue to provide capacity to adapt to the future, as it has for today.

Funding is critical for missile defense; even in these 2013 defense cuts it is seen as vital and necessary.  However, this is not enough.  Missile defense needs to grow, flourish, and have enough capability to implement our nation’s new defensive strategy today, tomorrow, and in the future.


Click here for the full transcripts from the Pentagon briefing.

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